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Japanese Island Declares Dolphins to be Citizens, With Full Rights

On a small island 100 miles from Tokyo, islanders, mostly fishermen, have declared resident dolphins to be citizens, fully protected while in the island's waters

On Sept. 1st of this year the annual dolphin slaughter will take place in Taiji Cove, Japan. Japan is a nation where up to 20,000 dolphins are killed yearly. So a new development recently in Japan is wonderful news in stark contrast as to what usually goes on in Japan. On a small island 100 miles from Tokyo islanders, mostly fishermen, have declared resident dolphins to be citizens, fully protected while in the island's waters.

This tiny island is called Toshima Island. The fishermen there want to show the world how some Japanese revere and protect wild dolphins. A long time Japanese ally, Elsa Nature Conservancy, has pledged to help the Toshima Islanders educate Japan about the wonders of wild dolphins.

The Toshima Dolphin Project as it is known will expand knowledge of this unique island and the relationship between the people of the island and its 16 resident dolphins. The project will provide a vision that will inspire their fellow countrymen and bring to them an understanding of the importance of allowing dolphins to remain free and safe from hunters' blades.

This is a description of the Toshima Dolphin Project written by Sakae Hemmi of Elsa Nature Conservancy. "In 1995 a dolphin came to Toshima waters and remained. In 1998 the dolphin, named Koko, gave birth. The baby was called Piko. The mother and baby were so revered that they were registered as citizens of the island. Around 2010 several dolphins from Mikura island moved to Toshima and several have given birth. As of February 2012, a pod of 16 dolphins swims in the waters of Toshima."

The Dolphin Project was originally spearheaded by a Mr.Moriyama. Unfortunately the Mr. Moriyama, died in February of this year. But others have picked up the cause because they feel so strongly that this message must get out. Currently funds are urgently needed to finish the project website, send a video team to the island to film the dolphins and fishermen and to make a DVD for release in Japan. They also plan to hold a symposium in Tokyo on dolphins in Japanese waters.

But the main message that The Toshima Dolphin Project wants to portray was expressed by Sakae Hemmi as: "I think it important to have many people learn and experience that wild dolphins are animals that we can make friends with and live together. Toshima is a very important place to raise the Japanese people's consciousness to protect wild dolphins."

Hopefully with the efforts of these wonderful fishermen from Toshima Island there may soon come a day when all dolphins can live off the Japanese coast without threat of dying in such a cruel manner as currently takes place in Taiji Cove.

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